More than 8,000 refugees from Bhutan left their camps in Nepal for resettlement in third countries in 2008, with the vast majority of them going to the United States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced today.
Nearly 7,550 of the refugees have gone to the US, which announced that it would resettle 60,000 refugees and even more if needed. The rest of them have resettled in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.
“We are pleased to see so many refugees starting their lives afresh after living in difficult conditions in the camps for the last 18 years and to learn that those resettled are adapting well in their new country,” said Daisy Dell, UNHCR Representative in Nepal.
The programme to resettle Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal, one of UNHCR’s largest and most promising resettlement programmes, began in November 2007. Since then more than half of the 60,000-strong refugee population have already expressed their interest for resettlement.
Currently, there are some 103,000 refugees from Bhutan living in seven camps in eastern Nepal, with some having been in exile for as long as 18 years. Some 16,000-18,000 of them are expected to leave Nepal in 2009.
UNHCR noted that, while it continues to assist with resettlement efforts, it will also continue to advocate for the option of voluntary repatriation to Bhutan for those refugees who wish to do so.